According to The Andrews Sisters’ official site, they were America’s most popular female singing group. Patty, the youngest sister, was a loud and energetic blonde who headed the group with her confident vocals. The middle sister was Maxene, a brunette, whose harmonic range gave the impression of four voices instead of three. Finally, completing the trio was the eldest, LaVerne, a strong willed redhead, witty with an eye for fashion. All born in the 1910s, they dominated well before The Spice Girls and The Supremes. During the late ‘30s and ‘40s the original girl group was a global sensation. They sold more than 75 million records.
In this hilarious tribute, three fabulous performers frock up and ham it up for a tad over an hour with 14 of their songs, including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Rum and Coca Cola and Pistol Packin’ Mama. Conceived in Melbourne by writer and director John Livings, he infuses mock squabbling and his take on the girls’ lives with contemporary references that go down a treat.
The humour is easy and saucy and then, of course, there is the music (with plaudits to musical director Mark Jones, who has done an excellent job). I tell you what, these guys can warble. Michael Dalton is Patty, the undisputed leader of the group. An energetic, enthusiastic unnatural blonde, she holds the show together and delivers the majority of the dialogue. She sings a treat too. Earlier this month he wowed them as a man and a woman (yes, both roles in a taxing one person show) in A Different Way Home at the same venue. That didn’t require him to sing, but clearly Dalton is multi-talented – a most impressive individual.
Jon Jackson is Maxene. A brunette, she’s a bit bored with the whole thing, is acerbic, morbidly cynical and her makeup could do with some attention. She’s also a dead set lush and becomes increasingly inebriated as the show progresses. But boy, what a voice. And last, but not least we have Andrew Dessmann as LaVerne. She’s a redhead and an airhead, but she’s impeccably groomed and a bit of a slut! Oh, I almost forgot to mention that she has the picks of the pins, very comely they are too.
The show is a hoot and the opening night crowd was most appreciative, as well they should have been because this is entertainment done in fine style. Bugle Boys, A Salute to the Andrews Sisters is on at Chapel off Chapel until 1st November and is well worth a visit.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television